There are two teams in the league right now that have enough tradable assets in their arsenal to allow them to be major players at the NBA trade deadline. The Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics both have some really powerful trade assets that will allow them to be facilitators at the trade deadline to make some major waves in a league that has been straying away from blockbuster deadline trades.
Therefore, in order to really understand what could possibly happen at the trade deadline around the league, it is imperative to understand what these teams are looking for with their rosters.
The Philadelphia 76ers are perhaps in the best situation of any team in the NBA. They have a bonafide 22 year old superstar in Joel Embiid, a potential game changing player in Ben Simmons, a stud rookie in Dario Saric, and several glue role players on very manageable contracts like Robert Covington, TJ McConnell, and Richaun Holmes.
Added on to these players, the Sixers have their own first rounder with an option to swap their first with the Sacramento Kings (as long as the Kings pick falls inside the top 10, which looks to be likely as the Kings lost their second best player in Rudy Gay to a season-ending injury).
In addition to the Kings’ swap, the Sixers also get the Lakers’ pick as long as it falls outside of the top three picks. If the Lakers land in the top three in this draft, that pick rolls over to next year as an unprotected pick.
The Sixers should be looking for young players and draft assets to continue to build out their roster of young stud players with additional talent to grow with Dario, Embiid, and Simmons.
Boston probably would rank second in the league in terms of how they are set up for success. The Celtics currently are the second seeded team in the Eastern Conference due to the amazing offensive ability of Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, along with a deep roster of above average guards like Avery Bradley or perimeter defenders like Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder. In addition to this core abundance of players, the Celtics also have the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick, which is currently projected to be the first overall pick in this incredibly deep and talented draft class.
Boston has made it perfectly clear to the league that they are looking to compete for a championship this season while also maintaining a deep young core, and so they are looking for a star player to pair up with Horford and Thomas.
So now that we have a better understanding of what both of the most influential teams at the deadline will be looking to gain out of the trade deadline, we can start to look around the league to see what additional teams can match up with these players to facilitate impactful trades. The most obvious answer to this question is the Sacramento Kings, who were competing to make the 8 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, but just lost their most consistent perimeter scorer in Rudy Gay for the season.
Their best player also happens to be the best big man in the NBA in Demarcus Cousins, who is a superstar who can score, defend and rebound. While he is overflowing with talent, he also is an absolute headcase who can’t seem to mature into a responsible locker room leader for his team. This immaturity is the prime reason why Cousins’ stock around the league remains only cautiously high.
The Kings owe their first round pick this year to either the Chicago Bulls, if it falls outside of the top ten, or to the Sixers, if the Sixers exercise their right to swap picks with the Kings. Therefore, due to the roughly decade of instability and futility within that organization, the Kings should be looking to reignite their disenfranchised fan base with a fresh new face of the organization that the fans can pull for.
Which brings us to our trade proposal.
Seeing as though most blockbuster trades that take place in the NBA require three teams to take part to help balance out the money and asset distribution, our three team trade includes the Sacramento Kings, the Boston Celtics, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Avery Bradley (from Celtics)
- Jaylen Brown (from Celtics)
- Brookly Nets 2017 First Round Pick (from Celtics)
- Jahlil Okafor (from 76ers)
- Demarcus Cousins (from Kings)
- Marcus Smart (from Celtics)
- Ben McLemore (from Kings)
Note: The Trade Machine doesn’t allow for you to trade draft picks, so this is purely to show that the financials of the deal work out.
Why does Boston make this trade?
Boston has made it clear that they are looking for a star to pair with Thomas and Horford in order to make a competitive run at the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown. This trade allows for the Celtics to maintain their primary core of veterans (Thomas, Horford, Crowder, Olynyk) who all offer a unique benefit to their team’s success while also enabling the Celtics to add on a player who is currently leading his team in scoring, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals per game.
At 28 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game, Cousins immediately gives the Celtics a primary low post scorer, one of the best rebounders in the league, as well as a rim protector. The major negative of Cousins’ immaturity would be mitigated in an organization that is run incredibly well and has strong ownership that will be able to provide him with the structure he needs. He will also have strong veteran leaders like Horford who will ensure he stays on a good path.
The only negative from the Celtics perspective is the fact that Cousins is a center, which would be a concern given Horford normally plays the center for Boston. However, given the fact that Boston has been looking into Vucevic, it is clear that they understand that Horford is more of a stretch four at this point in his career, so finding an inside scorer who can help their abysmal rebounding is a priority.
Why does Sacramento make this trade?
At the start of the season, the Kings were clicking offensively and were winning games with their current roster. However, the Kings have been in a spiral ever since, and are now barely clinging to the hopes of making the 8 seed in the west, and are now without Rudy Gay.
The Kings’ front office needs to start the realization process that their roster simply does not have enough talent to sustain success in this league. They need to maximize the talents on their roster in order to better position this franchise for continued growth and improvement. At this point, that means getting the most assets that they can for Demarcus Cousins and rebuilding their roster with more talent and balance.
This trade brings back 3 top three picks in the Brooklyn pick, Okafor, and Brown as well as a tremendous perimeter defender who can shoot and play both guard spots. Okafor will struggle defensively, but he can put up 17 points a night for you consistently while also enabling you to get more out of Cauley-Stein.
Add in the opportunity to get a player like Fultz with the Brooklyn pick and a good player somewhere in the late lottery with the Sixers’ swap would set up the Kings with a deep and talented roster for years to come.
Why do the Sixers make this trade?
It is no secret that the Sixers need to trade one or more of their talented young big men. This trade offers them a chance to get some value from Okafor and allows him to go to a team where he will see playing time and be positioned to succeed in a similar role that Boogie played for the Kings.
In return, the Sixers get a tremendous perimeter defender in Marcus Smart who can guard positions 1-4 and has a competitive spirit that rivals that of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. While he is not a good three point shooter, he does everything else for his team, and should be a nice bench player to add depth and competitiveness to the Sixers’ young roster.
McLemore is on the final year of his contract, so this could be a short term rental, but he offers a good outside shooting stroke and has the talent to go off on certain games offensively.
The main reason to make this trade, however, is not for the assets that the Sixers would get in return, but rather for the positioning that it would put the Kings in. The Kings would go from trying to compete for the playoffs to most likely dropping to one of the worst teams in the league. Due to the pick swap that the Sixers have with Sacramento, this would allow the Sixers to make a playoff push of their own this year while still ensuring that they get a top five draft selection.
Boston gets the star player they desperately want and who will allow them to compete with the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference.
Sacramento gets to quickly rebuild by immediately replenishing the young talent on their roster while also ensuring they get one of the top four picks in this upcoming loaded draft class.
Philadelphia gets some talented young perimeter players, moves one of their talented young big men allowing for more playing time for the rest of them, and helps to improve their draft positioning without worrying about their own team’s success.